The Joy of Being a Dairy-Free Queen
Lisa Lange, Senior Vice President of Communications for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Every time someone opens a container of the new Ben & Jerry’s almond milk–based frozen desserts (like the Chunky Monkey I’m eating right now) at the PETA offices, heads start popping up like prairie dogs. Someone always has a tempting new dessert, evidence of how plentiful dairy-free options have become and how incredibly easy it is to be vegan. Even Dunkin’ Donuts has jumped on the vegan bandwagon by offering almond milk in all of its restaurants! One of my favorite campaigns this year was Tony Award–winning vegan actor Alan Cumming’s “Not a Dairy Queen” ad, which we debuted at pride festivals. He sent a copy of the ad along with a letter to Dairy Queen CEO John P. Gainor, Jr., asking the company to add nondairy treats to its menu, as Ben & Jerry’s, TCBY, Pinkberry, and others have.
If I could only give up one type of animal-derived food, the choice would be easy: dairy. Why? Because of investigations like the one that PETA did at Daisy Farms in Texas, which supplies milk for Daisy Brand sour cream and cottage cheese. PETA’s footage showed that workers pulled calves out of their mothers’ birth canals with chains and tore them away just hours after birth. Employees burned away calves’ sensitive horn tissue without painkillers and force-fed them so carelessly that they aspirated fluid and drowned. Cows, even those who were in labor or had just given birth, were often punched, kicked, or jabbed with knives. All this so that humans can drink something that isn’t even good for them. We know that when we drink cow’s milk our bodies have to use the calcium that it contains plus even more from our own stores to neutralize the acids produced when the animal protein breaks down, so it actually leaches calcium from our bones. And it’s also been linked to a host of other medical problems, including colic, anemia, food allergies, digestive issues, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
As more people discover that milk does a body bad, the dairy industry has doubled down with ads featuring trumped-up health claims, including some particularly dubious assertions about chocolate milk. But shoppers aren’t buying it. Americans’ consumption of cow’s milk has been declining since the 1970s, dropping 13 percent in the past five years alone. Meanwhile, worldwide sales of nondairy milk more than doubled between 2009 and 2015 to $21 billion, and U.S. sales of nondairy ice cream jumped 44 percent in just the past year. After PETA published the findings of our Daisy Farms investigation, nearly 60,000 people responded by pledging to go vegan. To help someone you know discover our joyous, healthy, plant-based life, you can order a free vegan starter kit at PETA.org. Lisa Lange is the senior vice president of communications for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 2154 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026. PETA.org